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Thread: [Publisher] Pen and Sword Books

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW kelliewallace's Avatar
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    [Publisher] Pen and Sword Books

    I had a look in the forums and could'nt find info on these guys. Anyone dealt with them?

    They do primarily non fiction history books but I asked if they did historical fiction and they said yes. Seems reputable.

    www.pen-and-sword.co.uk
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  2. #2
    Who's going for a beer? waylander's Avatar
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    I know someone who has published military history with them. They are entirely reputable.

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  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    Pen & Sword in the UK - unprofessional behavior

    Chaps, I am here to share rather disheartening experience with what looked like a reputable British press. Last year I was submitting my fifth historical novel to various publishers. Given that it deals with the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, I decided to explore the British and Irish publishers. My previous books were published by small American publishers. I had my doubts about branching outside of the US, but my friends in the literary world kept telling me "you won't know until you try". Well, imagine my delight when Pen & Sword Press offered me a contract just a week after receiving my manuscript. Their response was very enthusiastic. They said they would publish the novel under their fiction imprint. Now, they are known for publishing non-fiction, mostly dealing with WWII. They ejaculate 350 titles a year, according to their site. I gathered that fiction was new waters for them. But I signed the contract. They promised me the book would be out in November 2013. So all this time I have been gathering blurbs and endorsements. All that time I was in contact with the submissions coordinator. She kept assuring me everything was on track. Two weeks later she confessed to me that the project might be a "non-starter" because the Irish distributor they were thinking of using refused to cooperate. You see, the Irish didn't see a point in promoting a project by a "no-name Yankee", not with so many of their local geniuses with degrees from Trinity writing on similar subjects. So the British publisher decided to back out of the contract. They were clever enough not to return a copy of counter-signed contract. So for all 8 months I was technically speaking not under contract. I had signed my copy and sent it to them, but they never got back to me with a counter-signed copy. So now they are pulling out without any consequences. Such nice professional behavior! Honesly, I would've expected better from an allegedly reputable British publisher.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW Wisteria Vine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
    Chaps, I am here to share rather disheartening experience with what looked like a reputable British press. Last year I was submitting my fifth historical novel to various publishers. Given that it deals with the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916, I decided to explore the British and Irish publishers. My previous books were published by small American publishers. I had my doubts about branching outside of the US, but my friends in the literary world kept telling me "you won't know until you try". Well, imagine my delight when Pen & Sword Press offered me a contract just a week after receiving my manuscript. Their response was very enthusiastic. They said they would publish the novel under their fiction imprint. Now, they are known for publishing non-fiction, mostly dealing with WWII. They ejaculate 350 titles a year, according to their site. I gathered that fiction was new waters for them. But I signed the contract. They promised me the book would be out in November 2013. So all this time I have been gathering blurbs and endorsements. All that time I was in contact with the submissions coordinator. She kept assuring me everything was on track. Two weeks later she confessed to me that the project might be a "non-starter" because the Irish distributor they were thinking of using refused to cooperate. You see, the Irish didn't see a point in promoting a project by a "no-name Yankee", not with so many of their local geniuses with degrees from Trinity writing on similar subjects. So the British publisher decided to back out of the contract. They were clever enough not to return a copy of counter-signed contract. So for all 8 months I was technically speaking not under contract. I had signed my copy and sent it to them, but they never got back to me with a counter-signed copy. So now they are pulling out without any consequences. Such nice professional behavior! Honesly, I would've expected better from an allegedly reputable British publisher.

    Lily, sorry this happened to you. There's a thread for Pen & Sword already here: <snipped>


    Maybe I'm mistaken, but don't publishers "fall out of love" with books fairly often? Were there other issues that came up, aside from their issues with a distributor?

    Also, did they really call you a "no-name Yankee?" That's awful.
    Last edited by CaoPaux; 08-02-2013 at 07:13 PM. Reason: threads merged, thanks!

  5. #5
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. Torgo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wisteria Vine View Post
    Maybe I'm mistaken, but don't publishers "fall out of love" with books fairly often?
    It happens, but it is pretty unprofessional to offer a contract, send it out for signature, and then back away. I've had to break contracts in the past - coedition support fell through, that sort of thing - but it shouldn't really happen in this manner.

  6. #6
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    Lovies, here is the official letter sent today. Please note the generic phrases.

    "
    Dear Marina,

    Thank you for your e-mail. After much discussion concerning your project, we have regretfully had to come to the decision that we will be unable to take it forwards at this time. I would encourage you to explore those other avenues that you have open to you, and wish you all the best of luck in these endeavours.


    You can consider this as confirmation that you are free to look elsewhere. The contract that you signed has not been processed, so there are no binding arrangements in place to impede you.


    I truly am sorry that we will be unable to add your title to our fiction list. We are very serious about the imprint and are doing everything we can in order to push the projects that we have already committed to. It is an entirely new arena for us. In terms of marketing, it requires a sea change in terms of our approach, and we just can't guarantee that we'd be able to make sufficient waves with your project with the infrastructure that we currently have in place.


    Once again, my apologies and very best wishes for you and your projects in the future. I genuinely think that you are a very talented writer, and don't want you to read this decision as a sleight on your efforts. I'm sure the story will find its audience with an alternative publisher.


    Best regards,"

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waylander View Post
    I know someone who has published military history with them. They are entirely reputable.
    Entirely reputable as far as non-fiction is concerned, maybe. They really have no clue how to sell fiction. They get jazzed up about the project and then drop them.

  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    And here is the original happy-jazzy letter of acceptance I got from them.
    ___________
    Dear Marina,


    Once again, many thanks for choosing to send your work on to us for assessment. Having read through your work as it currently stands, I'm happy to inform you that we would like to make steps to contract your work and publish it under our historical fiction imprint Claymore Press. During the editing process, I would probably encourage you and your editor to think about skimming back on some of the Americanisms that have slipped into the current version of the manuscript - just because our readership will be largely British and the events are of course set in Ireland, so it will only add to the feel of authenticity that you have already managed to create.


    Pen and Sword Books would be able to offer you 10% as a royalty payment on all sales of your book on the national and international market. Should there arise an instance where we choose to sell your book at a discounted price, you will still receive this commission. In cases where a discount of 50% (fifty per cent) or more is conceded however, this royalty payment will be calculated on the net price received rather than on the published price of the book. We will in turn ensure that your book is published with a high quality finish, and marketed and advertised to assist with its sales.

    In terms of e-book royalties, we would be able to offer you 10% on all digital sales of your work. We would distribute widely, not relying solely on Amazon. I have attached to this e-mail a list of all the online outlets that would be utilised.


    I hope this all sounds acceptable to you and look forward to hearing back from you once you have had time to process this information. If you are happy, I can then get your contract drawn up. Dependent on when you feel you'll be able to deliver the completed manuscript for editing, I will then add your project to our production schedule and the process will begin in earnest.


    I've been having a think about the title of your work and I think we could probably come up with a stronger, more descriptive one. I wondered what your thoughts might be on this and whether you already hand any alternatives in mind.


    Look forward to hearing back from you soon. I'm sure you'll have plenty of questions and I'll be happy to address these for you. Details of when we plan to schedule the work for publication will follow, once you've confirmed that you're accepting of these terms.


    Congratulations!

  9. #9
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. Torgo's Avatar
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    That is not a letter I would have sent without (a) a full acquisitions costing including solid estimates of sales from UK, foreign rights, and export (b) an outline of a marketing and publicity plan (c) the sign-off of my Publisher and Business Manager.

    I'm sure Pen and Sword are reputable, as Waylander vouches for them, but something went wrong here - this shouldn't really happen. Any serious worries about how you're going to sell the book should be resolved before an offer letter goes out.

    (Also: it's not a very clear offer letter. Distinction between PP and PR royalties isn't as clear as it could be, stuff is misspelled and poorly constructed, and 10% royalties on ebooks is really rather parsimonious. Do we think that perhaps a junior member of staff overreached a bit?)

  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torgo View Post
    That is not a letter I would have sent without (a) a full acquisitions costing including solid estimates of sales from UK, foreign rights, and export (b) an outline of a marketing and publicity plan (c) the sign-off of my Publisher and Business Manager.

    I'm sure Pen and Sword are reputable, as Waylander vouches for them, but something went wrong here - this shouldn't really happen. Any serious worries about how you're going to sell the book should be resolved before an offer letter goes out.

    (Also: it's not a very clear offer letter. Distinction between PP and PR royalties isn't as clear as it could be, stuff is misspelled and poorly constructed, and 10% royalties on ebooks is really rather parsimonious. Do we think that perhaps a junior member of staff overreached a bit?)
    Not to be a prick here, but "Reputable Publishers" shouldn't let overreaching junior members of staff deal with prospective authors. They clearly didn't do their homework. I don't have a problem with a polite rejection letter. I've had people tell me before "We recognize the merit of your work, but we aren't convinced that we can market it effectively." No harm done. But they strung me along for 8 months.

  11. #11
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. Torgo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
    Not to be a prick here, but "Reputable Publishers" shouldn't let overreaching junior members of staff deal with prospective authors.
    You can be reputable and still screw up. God knows I've made a few messes in my time which needed to be cleared up by more competent colleagues. One of these days I will tell the story of my first week in publishing and the phone call I made to Russell Hoban.

    I do think you were treated pretty shabbily though, yes.

  12. #12
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Oooooooooh- you can't leave us all hanging - change the name and tell us, Torgo.

    Quote Originally Posted by Torgo View Post
    You can be reputable and still screw up. God knows I've made a few messes in my time which needed to be cleared up by more competent colleagues. One of these days I will tell the story of my first week in publishing and the phone call I made to Russell Hoban.

    I do think you were treated pretty shabbily though, yes.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  13. #13
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    So you think they are just going to get away with this, because they left the door open for quick exit by not sending me the counter-signed contract? It's basically, "See ya, don't wanna be ya"? By the way, the author of these letters told me on the phone that I am the only fiction author they are doing this to. There are no other casualties. They just decided retroactively against moving forward. They fully intend on honoring their promises to other authors. It's just me they are nixing. Probably because I'm a "Yankee No-Name".

  14. #14
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. Torgo's Avatar
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    Did they actually call you a 'no-name Yankee'? Blimey.

    There might be some kind of legal action you could take even without a countersigned contract, but it seems unlikely, and you wouldn't want them to publish you at this point anyway, surely?

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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    The "Yankee No Name" is the Irish perspective. By the way, I'm not even a Yankee. I wasn't even born in the States. I'm poor Eurotrasch. English isn't even my first language. But you're right. I wouldn't publish with them even if they changed their minds. They are not serious about expanding their fiction imprint. I'm sorry, but when a press that claims to specialise in military history tells that the Anglo-Irish conflict falls outside of their area of expertise, that's a red flag. They also told me that the fact that I was across the pond didn't help with promotions. According to another author who published his novel with them, that's not really factor, because they haven't been very helpful with setting up in-person book events. Bookstores don't want to stock his book, because he's not "a big name". Apparently, "Big Name" is something you have to be born with. And he is local and British. They just don't know how to sell fiction. They should stick to non-fiction. That's what the world needs, another Panzer analysis.

  16. #16
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    By the way, take a look at the covers on their fiction titles. They look like gay erotica or video game covers. Such a half-hearted job.

  17. #17
    Coffee Coffee Work Coffee AW Moderator amergina's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
    By the way, take a look at the covers on their fiction titles. They look like gay erotica or video game covers. Such a half-hearted job.
    I thought their historical fiction covers look remarkably like historical fiction covers.

    The cover in my Avatar? That's a gay erotica cover.
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    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amergina View Post
    I thought their historical fiction covers look remarkably like historical fiction covers.

    The cover in my Avatar? That's a gay erotica cover.
    I should say, their historical fiction covers are inconsistent. Some are better than others. One of them looks like a sloppy Photoshop experiment. There is nothing wrong with gay erotica, as long as it's presented and marketed to the appropriate group of readers.

  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    This is the publisher I'm most likely to go with. They published my Neo-Victorian novels. Fireship Press. http://www.fireshippress.com/
    Granted, it's a smaller publisher, and they don't target bookstores, and they don't fight for shelf placement, but that's fine with me.

  20. #20
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    We have a brief discussion about Fireship here, if anyone's interested.

    Let's not start a discussion about them in this thread, though.

  21. #21
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    No, we will start a separate discussion about them, if you wish. I am sorry if I am a little jumpy. Usually I'm a very reasonable, level-headed person. It's just I'm still rather sore and bitter after the way they treated me. Again, I can take a rejection, with or without an explanation. But this goes beyond rejection. I would expect unprofessional behavior like this from a fly-by-night. I really thought I was in good hands by signing up with a reputable publisher. Silly me!

  22. #22
    Persisting AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
    By the way, take a look at the covers on their fiction titles. They look like gay erotica or video game covers. Such a half-hearted job.
    Whoa, there. Don't you think this insults the AW members who write gay erotica, who write video games, and/or those who do the cover art for them?

    We have one rule here, Respect Your Fellow Writer, and I think in the heat of the moment you may not have realized the impact of what you said on those of us who take gay erotica, video games, and their covers as seriously as you take what you do.

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  23. #23
    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
    By the way, take a look at the covers on their fiction titles. They look like gay erotica or video game covers. Such a half-hearted job.
    My current avatar to the left of my post is also gay romance, just for the record.
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    On a small world west of wonder LindaJeanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lily of Ulster View Post
    I am sorry if I am a little jumpy. Usually I'm a very reasonable, level-headed person. It's just I'm still rather sore and bitter after the way they treated me. Again, I can take a rejection, with or without an explanation. But this goes beyond rejection. I would expect unprofessional behavior like this from a fly-by-night.
    Yeah, I'd be pissed off to. Sorry that happened!
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  25. #25
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Lily of Ulster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    Whoa, there. Don't you think this insults the AW members who write gay erotica, who write video games, and/or those who do the cover art for them?

    We have one rule here, Respect Your Fellow Writer, and I think in the heat of the moment you may not have realized the impact of what you said on those of us who take gay erotica, video games, and their covers as seriously as you take what you do.

    Maryn
    Uhm... Did I say there way ANYTHING wrong with gay erotica or video game covers? I just said that having such covers on historical fiction is misleading.

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